23 SES 09 A, Contextualizing Opportunities for Educational Transitions: A comparative analysis from Belgium, Spain, the U.S. and the U.K.
The objective of this paper is to analyze the ‘transition field’ from lower to upper secondary education in Catalonia (Spain). The transition field is understood as a set of explicit and implicit rules, norms, power relations and expected behaviours featuring the transition from a comprehensive system to a tracked vocational or academic one. Arising from a combination of a Bourdieusian framework (Bourdieu, 1984) with a perspective of the governance of educational transitions (Parreira de Amaral et al 2015; Walther, 2006), the paper aims to identify the main tensions, contradictions or omissions featuring this transition point both at institutional and discursive level. The data for the analysis is grounded on a qualitative fieldwork developed in Barcelona between May and December 2017 and consisting in 22 in-depth interviews with policy-makers, managers and other experts related to the field. Findings show three main tensions featuring the Catalan transition field within secondary schooling. The first one is located at the level of the system and it is specified in a structure that allows for smooth transitions in the academic track whilst generating fragmented pathways in the vocational one. The second is based on the regulation of the educational supply and it is specified in the dilemma to regulate according to the students’ ‘personal realization’ or to students’ ‘potential occupation’. The third tension is located in the area of guidance and it is expressed through strong dichotomies in the way student’s capacities, abilities and interests are conceived and, in particular, in a dichotomized conception of manual and intellectual knowledge (Lahelma, 2009). In sum, these tensions illustrate the complexity of this transition point and reflect on the impacts of its regulation on the equality of opportunities for different social groups, and especially for the most vulnerable ones.
Bourdieu P. (1984). Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. London: Routledge. Lahelma, E. (2009). Dichotomized metaphors and young people's educational routes. European Educational Research Journal, 8(4), 497-507. Parreira do Amaral, M., Dale, R. (Eds.) (2013). Governance of Educational Trajectories. Governance of Educational Trajectories in Europe. Thematic Report on Governance. GOETE Walther, A. (2006), Regimes of youth transitions Choice, flexibility and security in young people’s experiences across different European contexts. Young. Nordic Journal of Youth Research, 14(2), 119-139
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